Aug 10, 2012

"Happy" Homecoming

(This might be a bit jumbled...because so is my brain lately)
One week after I gave birth to our sweet boy, we walked out of the hospital doors.  I was overjoyed, so excited to get home, convinced things could only go up from here.  And I'd like to tell you everything was rainbows and butterflies from there, but that is not the case.

Josiah going home!
I thought I was on the "other side" of recovery.  I thought I was rested, over the hormone crash, past the ridiculousness of the transition of milk coming in (if you've been there you know what I'm sayin'), and on the upswing physically.
Getting ready to leave the hospital.  Looking like I thought I felt...before I hit the wall.
Boy was I wrong.

I walked through the door to home and the familiarity felt like a breath of fresh air, it was as if the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.  But it was instantly replaced with the biggest flood of exhaustion I'd ever felt...ever.  I was in survival mode in the hospital, doing what I had to do to get by, and once I was home in my safe place, that whole facade came crumbling down and it felt like I hit a MASSIVE brick wall.  This is what the first week home was like:

  • The first day I slept in until 1:30pm (waking only to nurse Josiah).  I really can't even describe my exhaustion.  All I wanted to do is sleep. 
  • I was crying all the time at anything and nothing. 
  • Even the slightest task seemed too big, produced too much anxiety. 
  • When I finally did start doing things with Ella, the former Mommy's Girl wanted nothing to do with me.  And not in a passive, ignore me kind of a push me away, scream bloody murder at the top of her lungs, "I WANT DADDY!  YOU CAN HAVE JOSIAH!" kind of way.  That sent me right over the edge, sobbing, done.
  • The guilt was almost too much.  Guilt over being gone, guilt over not spending time/doing things with Ella.  Guilt over not feeling as happy/bonded/connected to Josiah as I had with Ella (who was a MUCH easier baby).  Guilt over not taking as many pictures.  Guilt over not having shared many pictures. Guilt over not even having the time/energy to say two words to my husband.
  • Josiah had to be held all the time, he would scream and cry if you put him down ever.  He didn't sleep well.  Sometimes only sleeping if on my chest, me all propped up.  That meant everyone but me got sleep.  He had one or two periods a day of being totally inconsolable except save for sometimes putting him in the moby and constantly bouncing, rocking, patting would work.  Add that all up and that equals a physically and emotionally spent mama who does not cope well.
  • He was so bonded to me, I seemed to be the only one able to sooth him when he's in his extra fussy times, which is an overwhelming responsibility when you're sleep deprived and already feel like you're crumbling around the edges. 
  • The timing of our yard getting does was awesome (note extreme sarcasm) because now, when I needed to get outside most, feel the sun, let Ella run and play, I couldn't.  I was confined to the house along with Ella because our yard was a ripped apart, dirty, dangerous mess.
  • The thought of Jason going back to work practically made me pass out with fear.
  • I could go on and on...but simply put, I was a wreck.  A total wreck. 
I'd like to tell you it's gotten a lot better in the last week and a half since Jason has gone back to work.  But I can't.  I can recognize slight improvements, and things are a little better, but it's still really, really tough.  Either I'm getting used to it or Josiah is slowly, slowly getting better, giving us some longer stretches at night occasionaly, sleepingin his carseat some on his own.  But he's still totally unpredictable and still needs to be held most of the time (which is all fine and dandy....unless you want to make food for your three year old, play with your three year old, take a shower, get ANYTHING done around the house, or SLEEP!).  I still get VERY little sleep.  In my spare moments... when I'm not nursing, burping, soothing, fixing breakfast or lunch, having some time with Ella...all I want to do is sleep...I still want to sleep...all the time.  I still wake up overwhelmed each morning, wondering how I'm going to get through the day, and some days are still really bad, but some days seem a little better, a little smoother.  I still feel guiltly, guilty, guilty but am listening to those around me and the Lord and trying to combat that with grace, lots of grace and being okay with just doing what I can do.  I'm probably even more impatient and short tempered now due to extended lack of sleep.  The yardwork is going slower than molasses on a cold day up a steep hill and I still feel trapped in my own home...but it's going at least.  I don't cry as much but I still cry A LOT.  I still feel disconnected from my husband because both of our hands our always full, but we have had a few moments here and there where we're both empty handed.  We sneak in a word or a kiss, we hold hands or snuggle for a second, and then one child or the other usually wakes, or cries, or needs...or at night, sleep takes priority and we roll over and get some rest :).  But the little moments still help.

I know my story is not everyone else's story.  And I'm sure there are people who handle it all in stride and are happy all the way through.  But I have talked to quite a few mom's who's tales are very similar and say their transition to one...or two...or three...or more was just as hard.  (They all tell me it will get better and I cling to that hope daily.)  

I think I was pretty ignorant to this side of "bringing home baby" until now.  Ella was an easy baby and she was my first.  So I could hold her all she needed to be held and I could sleep when she slept.  But now I've experienced the not so pretty side.  So here's my tidbit of advice from this experience:

If you know someone who's recently had a baby:
1)  Don't assume they're super happy and life is well.  Ask them how it's going...for real.  And be willing to lend a listening ear for venting or crying...withhold judgement.
 2)  Don't be interested in JUST holding their baby.  Sure, hold the baby if that is what will be helpful to them in that moment.  But otherwise, respect the parents routine.  And for heaven's sakes, don't wake the baby or try to keep them awake! 
3)  Do what you can to help the mama...daddy...siblings.  These things could include bringing a meal, doing laundry, doing the dishes, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, taking the older siblings out to play so mom can nap.  Whatever is going to ease the load and stress on the new family.  There, I said it.  THOSE are the things that REALLY help. 
4)  Don't take it personally if the family just needs some space and time.  Bonding is important, rest is important, quiet is important. 

Remember, that baby will be little and cute and holdable for a very long time and you will get those desired moments in time.  But first and foremost take care of mama and daddy!  Because if mama and daddy and family unravel in the sleep deprivation and chaos of those first 6-8 weeks, it will be good for no one at all! 
First night home.  Josiah finally getting some time with his daddy.


Esther Littlefield said...

Sarah, thank you for your honesty. This pretty much describes my experience coming home with KJ. And then I had the people asking, "Is she a good baby?" What the heck does "good baby" mean? If by "good baby" you mean, "easy baby", then NO, she was not an easy baby! But I never understood why people asked that. Anyway, I'll be praying for you. It is so hard, and overwhelming. Give yourself some grace. You are amazing, and you just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.

Angie Cousins said...

Hang in there mama!! Those first few months you are doing well just keeping your children alive and fed. You will sleep again and Josiah will learn to sleep too. It absolutly will get better and you'll feel yourself again. You'll always have your hands full...full of two beautiful children. It's totally NORMAL how you are feeling right now...and there is so much hope and so much to look forward to!

Cheryl said...

We always think the second baby is going to be just like the first, but that is rarely the case. In my case, I had it just the opposite. Jen was the fussy baby that made me think I would lose my mind if she didn't stop crying, and you were the easy baby that I kept thinking... what's wrong with this child? she sleeps all the time! =) I love you. And things WILL get better.

Anna said...

There is no way anyone could of prepared you for two. It is only truly understood when throw out any guilt of what you should off done, or what you could do......most of my junk is when I start holding myself to standards that are not realistic....especially ones I put on myself. You do what you can do and that is good enough. Period. Love you and will be sending up prayers for you. Anna

Diane said...

When Jason was a baby, he was the exact same as Josiah, needing to be held all the time, would only sleep when held, colicky..hang in will get better. You will look back someday and be thankful that you were able to be there for him. And Ella adores you because you are a wonderful Mom! You know that you can call anytime if you need any help with household chores, cooking or just hanging out & playing with Ella, or holding Josiah so that you can have some time with Ella! Take care..We love you!!